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Quite often you may find yourself looking at a fine piece of sheet music which has been engraved beautifully but alas in in the wrong key...

Perhaps because you are playing a tuba, clarinet or saxophone (transposing instruments) where the other band members are using non-transposing instruments (guitar, cello, flute, piano etc.). Another day you may find that the vocalist will do a much better job when the entire piece would be played a few notes lower or higher.

 

Welcome to transposition.

 

transposea.jpg

As you might have guessed, performing transposition using music notation software like MusiCAD is quite an easy task. But let's first see where transposition boils down to.

Let's suppose you want to transpose your music from the key of A to to the key of F.

Key

1

1#

2

3b

3

4

4#

5

5#

6

7b

7

C

c

c#

d

eb

e

f

f#

g

g#

a

bb

b

C#

c#

d

d#

e

f

f#

g

g#

a

a#

b

c

D

d

d#

e

f

f#

g

g#

a

a#

b

c

c#

Eb

eb

e

f

gb

g

ab

a

bb

b

c

db

d

E

e

e#

f#

g

g#

a

a#

b

c

c#

d

d#

F

f

f#

g

ab

a

bb

b

c

c#

d

eb

e

F#

f#

g

g#

a

a#

b

c

c#

d

d#

e

f

G

g

g#

a

bb

b

c

c#

d

d#

e

f

f#

G#

g#

a

a#

b

c

c#

d

d#

e

f

f#

g

A

a

a#

b

c

c#

d

d#

e

f

f#

g

g#

Bb

bb

b

c

c#

d

eb

e

f

f#

g

ab

a

B

b

b#

c#

d

eb

e

f

gb

g

ab

a

bb

The table above may help in determining the most likely flats and sharps.

 

First note is easy, that's an A so an F will do. Ehm, which F, a major third down or a sixth up? Let's go down.

Second note is a G#. So lookup the G# on the row for key A (the original key) found it at stage 7. Now locate key F in the same column: ok that will become an E

Third an A again so we get an F

Fourth note: C found at stage 3b; in row for key F will render Ab

etc. etc.

The same procedure should be applied to the chord symbols: the G7 should transpose to an Eb7.

transposef.jpg

Pretty straightforward isn't it?

 

That being said, it turns out to be a lot of work for an entire score, not to mention the possibility of a mistake or two...

Transposing your tune with MusiCAD is much easier: push the transpose button, select the new key, and hit ok.

Here are a few examples to get jour job done in more detail.

 

First you should get to know what the desired key should be. Playing along with MusiCAD makes that quite an easy job. Let's first handle the needs of our aforementioned singer requiring transposition of her song.

Ok, reading and playing music written in a key having one flat shouldn't be much of a problem, but what if we were to play using 5 or six sharps or flats. Our singer doesn't care, but violin players typically don't like lots of flats and Bb-clarinettists frown upon sharps... Such cases ask for compromises: use a next-to-ideal key by altering pitch one semitone up (+7 sharps/5 flats) or down (+5 sharps/ 7 flats) so you'll get a more 'playable' key.

 

Our tuba player needs a different solution. Whenever you are playing an instrument that has 'transposition' built in like clarinet, trumpet or tuba (all Bb-instruments) you can simply use the part modification dialog and select C to Bb to accommodate for the needed transposition. In fact the C to Bb modification will transpose the part two semitones up (adding two sharps/removing two flats) while at the same time instruct the part to sound two semitones lower (just like the tuba player does; he reads a C, plays a Bb, so give him a D and he can play along with real-pitched instruments like a piano).

 

See also part option dialog, how to arrange music

How to transpose music
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